News Roundup

Minister Zappone calls for acceleration of Catholic school divestment

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has called for an acceleration of the divestment of Catholic schools, it has been reported. Having learned that just five schools were transferred from Catholic patronage in 2015, the minister said that at this rate, the process could not meet its target of more than 400 such transfers nationwide by 2030. “I agreed that figure on the basis of my negotiations (to support the Government),” she said, adding, “We are now increasing the pace and I am going to work with [Minister Richard Bruton] as well as with other advocates to ensure that goes as quickly as possible.”

 

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Citizens’ Assembly on abortion to hold first meeting next month

The Citizens’ Assembly will begin deliberating on Ireland’s abortion law on October 15. The assembly of 99 members and 99 substitutes will meet at the Grand Hotel, Malahide in Dublin on that date in a gathering chaired by Supreme Court Justice Mary Laffoy. Responding to news of the first meeting, the Pro-Life Campaign (PLC) called on the Government to be “honest with the public and admit the sole purpose of the Citizens’ Assembly on abortion is to clear the way for a referendum that would strip the unborn child of his/her right to life. For ministers to claim otherwise is to mislead the public.” Dr Ruth Cullen of the PLC added: “I’m not at all questioning the impartiality of the chairperson of the assembly… but the fact remains the assembly was brought about for political reasons.”

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Columnist berates BBC for promoting gender ideology

A columnist from The Times newspaper in Britain has launched a scathing attack on BBC Radio 4 for promoting gender ideology in the lives of children. Janice Turner criticised an interview on the station with a 10-year-old girl whose parents used the internet to conclude the child was ‘non-binary’ after she has asked for a “pirates birthday party, disdained dolls” and “liked Peter Pan”. Turner further criticised the interviewer for failing to ask the girl’s mother “whether asking every day ‘are you a boy or a girl?’ was good for her daughter’s mental health [or]whether it was appropriate to ask your 10-year-old ‘if you were a man would you be gay or straight?’” She concluded: “The BBC is allowing to enter the mainstream, unquestioned, a pernicious ideology that demands parents patrol their children for gender crimes – boys who like dolls, girls who climb trees – and then seek a label and treatment.”

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British MPs support Bill to protect children from online porn

A Bill in Britain aimed at curbing children’s access to online porn has received cross party support as it progresses through Parliament. Now at its second reading, the Digital Economy Bill places a responsibility on content providers to establish “robust age verification controls for online pornographic content in the UK”. The Bill also proposes that the government works with payment bodies such as Paypal towards a system whereby services be withdrawn from non-compliant websites. Welcoming the Bill, Labour MP Sarah Champion, said: “The scale of online abuse and exploitation, and the proliferation of pornography and violent sexualised imagery among children, has reached endemic levels. This Bill presents us with an opportunity to offer protection to all children, and I urge this House to do so.”

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Online giants to block gender-abortion ads in India

Three leading internet search engine companies have agreed to block ads promoting sex-selection abortions in India in an effort to assist with that country’s fight against ‘gendercide’. After an initial reluctance – until threatened by India’s Supreme Court – Microsoft (which owns the search engine Bing), Google and Yahoo have agreed to block searches based on 22 key words which will have the effect of denying access to abortion providers advertising sex-selective terminations. The rate of abortions based on gender in India is now at epidemic levels, with figures from 2011 revealing that there are 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under age 7 – the most unbalanced gender ratios in the world.

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Poland considers tighter abortion law

Poland’s Parliament is set to consider a new Bill towards tightening the nation’s abortion laws. While current legislation allows for termination in cases of rape and incest, where the life or ‘health’ of the mother is at risk, or in cases of severe foetal deformity, the new Bill proposes to forbid abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger.  Mariusz Dzierżawski, the head of Poland’s Stop Abortion committee, said 58% of Poles backed the proposed new law, adding that it was necessary because “about 1,000 unborn children are legally killed in Poland each year”. He added: “Being suspected of having Down’s syndrome is enough to be killed. It must change.” In the UK the vast majority of the country’s 180,000 abortions annually take place on the so-called ‘health’ ground.

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First minor dies by assisted suicide in Belgium

For the first time in Belgium, a minor has died by assisted suicide. The youth, described in reports as a terminally ill 17-year-old became the first to successfully gain permission to seek death by physician assisted suicide since Belgium removed age restrictions two years ago. Belgium is currently the only country where assisted suicide legislation has no lower age limit for the procedure. Neighbouring Netherlands has a limit to 12 years of age. Elsewhere, patients must be 18 years of age. Under the terms of Belgium’s no-limit arrangement, a child seeking assisted suicide must be experiencing unbearable suffering through a terminal illness and make repeated requests for the procedure.

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Bishop dismisses claim that faith is used to discriminate

A US Bishop has criticised claims made by the chair of the country’s Commission on Civil Rights that religious freedom is an excuse to discriminate. In a statement, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said of the claims made by Martin Castro: “Statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work.” He further commented that the notion that people of faith are “comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era” was a “shocking suggestion.” Mr Castro had made his contentious comments as part of the commission’s launch of its annual report Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Non-discrimination Principles With Civil Liberties.

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Religion contributes more to US economy than tech giants combined – study

Religion contributes more to the US economy than tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple combined, a new study – extract here – has found. According to a report in The Washington Post, researchers at Georgetown University examined ways in which religion contributes financially – churches, hospitals, schools, charities and even gospel musicians and halal food makers – to find a staggering $378 billion benefit to the economy. The figure does not include the spending surge prompted by the Christmas period. The largest portion of that $378 billion comes from faith-based health-care systems. Religious groups run many of the hospitals in the United States; Catholic health systems alone reportedly account for 1 in 6 hospital beds in the country.

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Christian university wins appeal in ethos row

A university in Canada has won an appeal to have its degrees officially recognised after a row about its Christian ethos. Trinity Western University (TWU) in Nova Scotia had been sanctioned by the Barristers’ Society of the region for its ‘community covenant’, a requirement that students abstain from sex outside traditional marriage. Based on a claim that the covenant discriminated against the LGBT community, the sanction meant that law graduate qualifications would not be recognised. However, Nova Scotia’s Court of Appeal has now overturned that sanction. A spokesperson for TWU said: “Everyone, religious or not, should celebrate this decision, which amounts to a protection of our freedom and our identity… We are not making a statement about LGBTQ people; we are making a statement about traditional Christian marriage, which is sacred to us.”

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